Tuesday, December 29, 2009

chocolate croissants

chocolate croissants, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

I like to snack while I write. You can find the recipe here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading Challenge 2010

I'm game. Are you? Click here to find out more information.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's that time of year....

As 2009 draws to a close, it is time to pick a title for my quote book for next year. I don't have as many contenders as I did last year, but I'm not sure this is good or bad.

Last year's title was: So much yet to see.

Contenders for this year include:

1. Apparently I'm just getting started

2. To days to come

3. A clean napkin and an extra place at the table

4. The world needs your story

5. Front row seat to the greatest show on earth

The writer in me loves #5, but I'll be thinking about all of them this next week to see which one becomes my mantra for the new year.

I'm also going to post a list on the side on January 1 with a list of things to accomplish. Might be something little, might be something big. But I do enjoy crossing off items on a list.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Nativity, originally uploaded by Mike Motoda.

Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you out there. Remember the Reason for the Season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Glad to be back

I have finally dug out from all the snow - approximately 8 inches received Friday night. And after 80 hours of being without power, I am back to blogland. One good thing - I was able to miss work Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Frost in the air

IMG_6412, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

I had to take this picture to show the frost. It was 'cool' looking. LOL

Thursday, December 10, 2009

riding sidesaddle

12 07 08, originally uploaded by Ravenwood2009.

I'm thinking of turning this photograph into a short story over the weekend. I plan to change the names, but I do want to keep the fact that the woman only rides sidesaddle and always wears a bowler.

I'll post the story once I've finished it.

Wish me luck. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Research for a new idea

I'm working on a new idea - mistaken identity murder(s). While I was googling for information, I was looking for something to make notes on and found a piece of paper where I had written "canon rebel eos xsi commercial" - to remind myself to look for the music used in this commercial. Well, tonight I found the name of it as well as the sheet music! Unbelievable luck!

The music is by Michael Montes.

So what does this have to do with my story? I think my character will be a piano teacher or a composer. Still working on it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Life after NaNoWriMo 2009

I now find myself at a loss for things to do, now that the contest is over. I met the 50K goal three days early this year, so I've been catching up on my reading (for pleasure), sewing and knitting. I was able to make this wreath (no sew) Wednesday night when my power went out for 5 hours. Luckily, I was able to hook a generator to the stove/oven (gas) to finish baking the homemade bread. After the power came back on, I finished making napkins for the next day.

So what next for my writing projects? My NTSB investigator is calling me again. I may work on that one. But I might also start something new. I also need to plan for Script Frenzy in April 2010 and not be caught off guard like I was this year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This says it all!

A big thanks for my friends L, G and others who joined the crazy madness with me.!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Contessa excerpt

“Damn it. I thought I was going to close this case.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry. It’s not like there are relatives waiting to find out what happened.” Leo closed the folder and dropped it back inside his desk drawer. “Damn it.”

“Leo, stop worrying. I can pop back and see what happened, if you like.”

“I thought you didn’t like to meddle in your own timeline?”

“I don’t want you angry over this. Plus, I want to find out what happened to Helen and how this could happen to her sister. I need to know. It seems I was too selfish to wait to make sure the two of them were safely on their way home before I ditched them. All I cared about was myself.” She wiped her hand over her eyes. “If there is anyone to blame, it’s me. I should have stayed there and stuck it out. Told my father and brother that I wasn’t going to be put in an institution, just because they were ashamed of me.”

“Don’t. It’s not your fault. Everyone has their own timeline to follow. Some end sooner than others. And some, like yours, are all over the place. If it was her time, there was nothing you could do to stop this.”

“Yes, I could have stopped it. I can do that.”

“Do what?” Leo looked puzzled. “I can manipulate time, change history, and with no bad aftereffects. I’m one of the few who can do that, which makes me kind of popular.”

“You mean people want to use you and your abilities to change history and alter timelines with no repercussions.”

“That’s about the gist of it.”

“Wow. I had no idea.” She could see the wheels turning in his head. She knew his wife had died a couple of years earlier. She was waiting for the inevitable. But no request came. “Don’t you want me to go back in time and keep your wife alive?”


“Why not? I would do it for you.”

“I know you would. That’s why I’m not going to ask.”

“I’m confused.”

“I loved my wife. Make no mistake about that. After a rocky start, we got along really well, until the cancer took her away. But when I married her, I did so for one reason only.”

“What was it, if I may ask?”

“She looked like you.” He looked at her. “I inherited the painting, remember. And there, in life size glory, was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Since I believed, at that time, you were long dead, or should have been, I found myself comparing every girl I dated to that painting and none of them lived up to the person I had built up in my head. So I put the painting in storage and started looking again. I finally met Leslie on a blind date. I was originally drawn to her because she reminded me of the painting. But I eventually fell in love with the woman behind the face. I can’t go through losing her again. So, I think you for your offer, but I will leave her in peace and my heart in pieces.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

25,070 at last count

I didn't make it to Monday's word count (not yet, anyway), but I did meet and surpass what Sunday's was. I'm 65 words to the plus side. Now I have to keep it that way. That's a very pretty number to be at right now.

I wrote 1,551 words Friday evening (after a nap), 5,161 on Saturday, and 6,173 on Sunday.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

nano playlist 2009

nano playlist 2009, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

The playlist is a great tool to have when you need to churn out the words. I started with 12,016 words and have now reached 23,167 and counting. I've got 4 hours to make it to at least 25,005, tonight's word count quota, but I hope to be well over that.

Now I'm off to listen, one more time. to these songs. I can tell I'm going to be sick of them before the month is over. But as long as they pull the words out, I'll keep listening.

Friday, November 13, 2009


No, that's not my current word count. That is my writing goal this weekend.

I know, I know. We all lead busy lives and but mine has just sucked the energy and mojo out of me. I'm just glad I've made it to 12,016 for now.

My goal is to reach 26,672 by Sunday night, the total for Monday's word count to have by end of day. If I can get a day ahead and stay that way, maybe I can finish this thing this year. I want another win!

My very own therapist!

11-13-09_0917, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

I have one of the best co-workers around!

She's cleaning out her work area because she's retiring at the end of the year, but she came across this gift she had bought for me and forgotten about.

I'll take another picture once it has gotten bigger.

This is just too funny!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A big shout out and THANK YOU to all the Veterans out there who have served or are still serving. I appreciate all that you. A special thanks to my dad, as well, who is a Korean War veteran.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The "ah hah" moment

I have never been very good at math, despite the fact that my dad is a retired high school math teacher. He taught chemistry, physics, and geometry to name a few. Anyway, I could do the math, but didn't understand it that well. Not like I should have.

So I was taking a trigonometry class at college. During the summer. One of those 5 week classes. I had been doing OK in it, probably had a C average, but we were working on the equation for the slope of a line. I could barely remember this from high school so why I ever thought I could do it in college is beyond me, but there I was, taking the class. I was at work (police dispatcher at the time) while I was working on the homework. Not much in the way of radio traffic. It was a college PD so nothing hardly ever happened. Anyway, I was working on one problem, trying to find the slope of the line I had been given. I swear the light bulb over my head literally came on when I finally understood what I was doing. It was a moment I will treasure because it will never happen again in relation to math. I ended up with a B overall in the class, which made me and my dad happy.

However, it was happening on Sunday as I pounded out 4,763 words to get caught up in NaNoWriMo. I'm still behind, but that's OK. I'm not as behind as I was at the start of the weekend.

I was working on a scene and the light bulbs just kept going off. None of what I wrote had been planned, but apparently the behind the scenes thinking was starting to pay off. I was able to come up with four or five more scenes to steer the story into a new direction (nowhere near where I had originally intended it to go) and a boost to my lagging word count.

The 'ah-hah' moments can happen apart from a math class for me, for which I'm very thankful. I love this ability to create people and new ideas. My total now stands at 10,763 and I have every intention of making it to 15,001 by midnight Monday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finally got my word count back on track, kinda sorta

I've met the quota so far (5,085 - goal was 5,001 after three days) I'm feeling pretty good about it, but my story had kind of taken on a life of it's own. I was having issues today with it, and right now I have no idea where it is headed - trying to salvage all the work I put into it planning out things to happen, but I believe in the end it will all work out. I wanted to write basically in order the story will follow, but that might not be an option now.

But since I did meet my quota, I allowed myself to play with some new maps. Purchased especially for NaNoWriMo for "research purposes" I laid them out so I could see where one of the real life people I'm using for my story lived and walked and disappeared from.

Now it's on to more planning. You can see a photo of my maps here, of New York City. If only I had been writing this story for last year's NaNo, I could have found a few of these places. But maybe since I visited the Big Apple last December, images from that trip inspired this story!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

3,008 and counting

My word count is currently setting at 3,008. My goal is to hit 4,000 before I go to sleep. But here is a small part of a conversation I wrote this afternoon.

“I think so.” She smiled at him, putting an arm through his and leaning her head on his shoulder. “I never expected to see that painting again. Any of them.”

“How many are there?”

“Three, if you count the one my father originally commissioned.”

“The one in there has you partially clothed. What about the third one?”


“Really?” He sounded quite interested in that particular bit of information.

“Get your mind out of the gutter. There is nothing wrong with a nude body. I was posed ‘artfully’ and I wasn’t completely naked. At least I don’t think I was. It’s been so long I don’t remember.”

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I'm eagerly awaiting midnight and the chance to start my NaNoWriMo novel for 2009. I've printed out a calendar for November, pulled out my thumb drive and put all my notes, etc onto it so I can take it with me, and I'm about to start getting my notes out for my opening scene, which takes place at a masked ball on Halloween.

I so can't wait until midnight. I debated all day whether or not to stay up late and get a good start, or use the extra hour for sleep. Stay up late won when I finally took a nap about 3:00 this afternoon.

Good luck out there to all the people participating in NaNoWriMo this year and lets make this one the best yet!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toni Frissell: Weeki Wachee spring, Florida, 1947

My story for NaNoWriMo doesn't take place in 1947, nor is it set in Florida, but I found this photograph on Flickr in the Creative Commons and it was perfect for the cover.

The photograph is in the public domain and I have saved a copy as inspiration. I can't wait to start writing on Sunday. It can't come soon enough.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NaNoWriMo - almost here!

One week from today and I will finally be able to unleash the creativity that has been building in my head about my NaNo story. The characters are at the gate, ready to go.

I'm currently working on getting my outline in order, mostly a scene of events I can use to write by. I will develop a more detailed outline/time line as I write, since I made some notes this afternoon before my nap about two possible spin off story involving the same set of characters.

My character in this one, Contessa, appeared earlier this year while I was writing about a teen age time traveler named Mac. So I became kinda curious about her and starting thinking more about her. I finally decided to write something that would involve her and her backstory, which would later show up in Mac stories.

While thinking about her backstory, I came across the true story of Dorothy Arnold, who disappeared in 1910 from New York City and was ever seen again. So the Contessa is kinda sorta based on this real life incident, but she doesn't look like this real person. I just liked the idea of someone disappearing so I've added that information to her story.

So I've been researching NYC in 1910, where places were, what life was like back then, and more specifically weather conditions on specific days, locations of post offices, cost of mailing postcards, fashions of upscale people and what public transportation was available at the time. I don't need much info right now. All I'm worried about during November is getting the story down on paper. Previous stories I've written did not have descriptions of clothing (unless needed for a particular scene) - I would worry about adding that kind of detail in during the editing process.

I have yet to edit the previous attempts at NaNoWriMo. All I cared about was getting the word count down on paper. But I believe I will take a break during December, since that will be a busy time at my workplace, and start working on an edit in January 2010.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Music for NaNoWriMo 2009

So far only seven songs have been chosen for my playlist this year. I debated using previously purchased songs from iTunes, but I finally decided today to go with all new songs. Most of these are ones I hear on Sirius XM radio while I'm driving back and forth to work. Two hours (or longer) of "me" time to think about ideas and plot murders (of fictional characters, I promise!) - one reason I use up so many index cards - these notes and the bad drivers' license plate numbers.

So far my playlist includes:

1. My Heart Belongs to Me - Barbra Streisand
2. Knock You Down - Keri Hilson
3. Tell Your Story Walking - Sarah Mcleod
4. Me - Tamia (Soul Seekerz Remix)
5. Battlefield - Jordan Sparks
6. Never Say Never - The Fray
7. One Hand, One Heart - from the Broadway version of West Side Story

I'm sure I'll have more. Right now I've listened to them several times. But now no more until November 1st. I'm one of those people who listen to a song over and over and over again because the music and/or lyrics allows me to daydream about what I want to write. I envision my idea, like a movie, then write what I see. That's one reason I want new songs. Most songs, when I hear them, remind me of an idea I had or worked on. So I need new ones. At least that's what I tell myself. LOL

I'd like to get about 20 songs so I can time myself writing while listening to them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Three weeks and counting....

Three weeks from today will be the start of 2009's NaNoWriMo. I've been trying to distance myself from what I want to write because my brain has begun to throw more appealing ideas in my way and I'm wavering in what I plan to write.

I hope to write about a time traveler name Contessa. This is more of a title than a name. Her first name finally came to me, along with that of her time keeper and her best friend. So I at least have names to work with now.

If this one doesn't work out, I can always go back to murder and mayhem for my mystery novels. But this one is in my head and won't leave me alone, except when my brain is telling me some other good ideas to write about. I just write them down and tell them later. This year is for the Contessa.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

handprint mac

handprint mac, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

Just wait until my coworkers are out of the office the next time! I went to a Halloween store today and found window/mirror clings of bloody handprints and blood splatter! I bought two sheets! I can't wait to use them. MUHAHAHAHA

Thursday, October 1, 2009

They Never Came Back - NaNoWriMo

IMG_6195, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

Arrived today from Amazon. The woman is my story (I think) will be based on one in this book, Dorothy Arnold, who disappeared from NYC in 1910 and was never seen again. I can't wait to read it tonight.

I'm using Arnold's story as the basis for my NaNoWriMo story this year. I was on Wikipedia the other night looking for information on missing persons. I needed something to base a more detailed search on. As I have never been missing myself, I needed some help.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Imaginary People

I was chatting online with a friend tonight about writing and the upcoming NaNoWriMo and told her about an image I had about a character - running from some people during the turn of the 20th century in NYC. She had the audacity to call me weird! LOL

I told her I was a writer - I'm supposed to see and talk to imaginary friends. Then she added all those imaginary friends she had as a kid are coming in handy when she writes. I loved it!

The image I had this evening driving home was of a woman running from someone. He was chasing her because she had bought something. Something she wasn't supposed to have. Right now that item is a newspaper. What's in the newspaper? Something wrapped in the sheets or something printed in that particular issue?

Picture is The Plaza from my trip last December to NYC.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A decapitated statue guards this grave

guard, originally uploaded by wordnrrrd.

Here is another of my favorites from Flickr. I had plans to personally find this statue and take my own photographs, but I ran out of time (darn you, Biltmore Estate - LOL) the last time I was in Asheville this past summer.

This is another example of using a photograph to inspire a character or a story idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I knew something would have to go....

...I dropped my programming class yesterday. I decided I didn't have enough time to commit to the class and I'm planning to write in NaNoWriMo again this year, so I don't need something else in the way. Besides, I think this is a class I will need to attend in person, not take online.

Speaking of writing, I was driving to work this morning, taking the route I usually take home (couple miles longer, few more minutes) and had an idea smack me up side the head for my story about an accident investigator. I've been looking for a spot in Maine that has twisty, curvy roads where I could put an accident scene, and have the road and the conditions have an impact on the accident itself. I've been checking online topographical maps looking for the perfect spot and not finding anything. But as I was driving, it suddenly dawned on me that I could create an accident scene along a stretch of road like this - using conflicting skid marks, etc to confuse the investigators. So that's my plan for the weekend - construct an accident scene. And work on my homework for my other class.

For those of you who like Quincy, M.E., Netflix now has all 8 seasons to watch online (or through Tivo, like I do). I'm finally able to watch the season 4 episode "A Night to Raise the Dead." I think this one is my favorite!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ghost outside the Window

Ghost outside the Window, originally uploaded by suphiro.

One of the many interesting photographs I've found on Flickr. I often look here for inspiration for ideas and stories.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Research for NaNoWriMo

Since I work in higher education, I've decided to create a fictional college for my NaNoWriMo story this November. It will be a small liberal arts college, probably private. I've been doing a little research tonight on number of students, where the towns are located, etc. One college I looked at was Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va. I've stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel near the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Theater. If you like Shakespeare, this is the place to come. I loved it. Anyway, the college is near the hotel and theater, which are next door to each other. I could see one the buildings of the campus from my window during my trip.

I'm going to use my hometown as the layout for my community and the location of the college. I already have a county map and a topographical map of the town. There is a high school which has about 1000 students, around the number of students in the schools I had on my list. The other schools I looked at were Sweet Briar College and Randolph Macon College. My college will be like these only in scale and how they are laid out geographically next to their respective towns. I'll create the background and curriculum later, but now I just want to get a feel for the number of students and how the geographical information may play a role in my novel.

As for the name of the college, I think I'll use a person's name, a fictitious name, as someone who either donated money to the school, went to school there, or had some other relationship with the school. At Sweet Briar College, the school was created in memory of the daughter of founder. I liked that idea, and may use a similar idea for mine. I have a first name chosen, but I need a last name that sounds important and wealthy.

Now on to the characters.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to my DAD

My dad turns 76 today. He's been retired from teaching for 20 years and doesn't look a day older! Sorta.

My dad has taught me a lot. Like how to drive a stick shift, shoot a gun (rifle, shotgun AND pistol), smack a squirrel up against a tree (that's another story) and a little bit about chemistry, calculus and computer programming. I know enough to be dangerous, remember.

So thank you, Daddy, for your love, encouragement, wisdom and a love of books.

I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2 months and counting until NaNoWriMo

Two months until the start of NaNoWriMo.

I've decided to use my hometown as the layout for the town for my story. I'll change a few things around, but the town is the right size for what I need.

So now all I need is some characters, a crime (murder, most likely - I like those) and a few suspects. Throw in some humor, a little bit of romance, and hopefully I'll reach 50K by the end of the month.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Are you ready?

NaNoWriMo, originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

I know November is still two months away, but I'm getting prepared. I bought my third copy of No Plot? No Problem! along with the novel writing kit. I like to play with "extras" like this - I'm a geek that way.

I first found out about NaNoWriMo in 2007. My friend L and I were attending class in Knoxville, TN in the spring and we were hitting all the local bookstores while in town for the weekend. Our class was online, but actually met 4 times during the semester. I know it was a Borders where I bought my first copy of Chris Baty's life-changing book.

In May 2007 L and I had our own NaNoWriMo - We challenged each other to write 50K words that month. We also had a side bet - whoever had the least amount of words had the buy the other one dinner. I "won" and had to buy dinner. I tried that November to complete another novel, but I was only able to make it to 11K.
In November 2008, I was able to official "win" NaNoWriMo.

I'm looking forward to this year's writing experiences!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The ultimate work space

I just came across this article from Writers and Artists (UK) about the ultimate work space. Exactly what I need.

The photograph is of a set of blueprints I bought from Southern Living (no longer available) several years ago. It's a garage with an apartment overhead. I had planned to build this on my parents farm (still working on it) and move into it. But I think now I'll change the plans and turn it into a writing area. I can write upstairs and use the downstairs for my library to house all my research materials.

All I need is a couch for naps, a small dorm fridge for cold drinks and a microwave for the popcorn and I'm good to go.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blue books

Yes, those dreaded exam books from your college days. I recently picked up a few while I was in Knoxville at the UTK bookstore on campus. Those were green, but I have many of the blue ones as well.

Why do I buy them? For notes and outlining. If I'm researching a particular topic, I'll write the topic on the cover, along with the date, then makes notes inside of information I might need. I will also make detailed notes inside for future plot ideas. My most recent one is dated August 7th and is titled "bank robberies" where I've listed thoughts and ideas and possible story arcs. Their thin, wide ruled (even though I prefer college ruled paper) and I love them.

If you live near a college or university, go buy some now. If you don't, visit one on your next vacation or business trip. All if not most bookstores have maps to their location and usually have visitor parking nearby. If you can't find a way to get to one, check out their online presence or call and see if they would be willing to mail you some.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The new desk...

....doesn't really look that big, but I think it will be perfect for what I need. I do most of my writing on the Macbook so I plan to use the iMac when I want to actually sit down at a desk and write.

Until I have one entire room dedicated to my writing, with custom cabinetry, this desk will be home for the iMac. Home for the TARDIS as well.

Friday, August 7, 2009


T.A.R.D.I.S., originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

They say patience is a virtue. Not sure whether or not I believe that, but my patience was finally rewarded today with the arrival of my very own TARDIS.

I ordered this thing on March 31 from the BBC America shop online and I was afraid I was never going to receive it. The delivery date kept being pushed back, and back, and back - you get the picture - but I kept the order, hoping that one day....

This TARDIS is a USB hub. I'll eventually hook it up to my iMac, but I just had to take a photo of it and share.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I so want to buy this poster and hang in it my cubicle.

The month of August is what is known as "blackout" - no one takes vacation/annual leave and any sick leave must have a doctor's excuse to go with it. It's not as bad as it sounds. I'm used to not taking time off. Before I took a few days off in June and July I had over 40 days of leave time saved up.

Anyway, the problem with August is the graduate students who apparently wake up on X morning and decided to go to graduate school. I really don't want to hear all the whining about why official transcripts, test scores, reference letters and writing samples are needed for X program. A few of them have even asked why they can't be admitted without sending ANYTHING!! The closer we get to the August 24th start date of the semester, the worse it gets.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

new month and new ideas

I hate to be so disorganized. My friend Lisa over at AllAboutAlton is always quoting "Organization will set you free" to me whenever I can't find something. I was looking tonight for some unique character names. I came across a map of wrecks of the Outer Banks. I have a copy of this map somewhere in a box. Somewhere. Sigh.

Anyway, I found a partial image through Google and wrote down a few names and the dates of the shipwrecks.

1. Helen Benedict, 1914
2. Harriet N. Rogers, 1873
3. Isabella Parmenter, 1925
4. Annie Blackman, 1889

I had thought at one time to create characters with these (and other names from the map) and see if anyone would ever notice the connection. Guess I'll have to dig out my map and make note of a few more names.

My NaNoWriMo for July did not end like I wanted it to. All I will say is that my word quota did not reach 50,000. I'll try again.

I've started making notes for the NaNoWriMo for November 2009. I'll need to reread my novel from last year, since the character I'm using for this year's novel, Zero, was a major supporting character. He's a computer hacker, a loner, but will find himself involved in helping out others so he won't be able to hide behind his computer screens.

Until November gets here, I'll be working on character development for Zero. I don't want to do too much, since it seems that I write more when I don't plan ahead of time. Apparently the writing part of my brain likes the seat-of-the-pants approach.

I'm also going to work on some new ideas. I was reading a recent issue of Threads and came across a tip someone had submitted. The tip was about using two different colors of thread when you didn't have the correct color - by using a darker color and lighter color, they blend together, and as long as you're not too close, you won't be able to tell the difference. I marked the page with a sticky and made a note to put this on a clue list - a clue that would show the button had come off and been repaired that might later be used to solve a crime.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Biltmore Estate Asheville NC italian garden b&w

This is an older photograph (from 2007) but I decided to use it anyway.

I ended up not taking too many pictures during my recent visit to the Biltmore Estate. I was too excited about the Premium House Tour. And what an experience it was!! I've been on numerous Behind-the-Scenes and Rooftop tours but I was able to walk down into the Winter Garden, visit the den (behind the library - I'd already been in there twice, but I didn't say anything) and was able to actually do into another couple of rooms I had only been able to see by looking at them from the outside.

I'm so glad I did this new tour. I had some of my questions answered. I'll have to plan a new trip and more questions for the next time.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My little band of time travelers...

...wants me to write about them again. They've been sitting quietly while I write about other things, but their patience is up with me.

I can hear Mac and Freddy, demanding to be let loose somewhere in history. But I've got to finish my NaNoWriMo for July first - which is going to be really hard.

I'm finally having to change the name of my character, Ginger. The name just isn't working out. So I've pulled out my copy of The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook (second edition - first edition is somewhere in a box) by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I suppose I could use any old baby name book, but I like this book. I can look by country for male and female names (listed separately) or use the reverse lookup in the back to look up a certain word - say "noble" and a list of names and page numbers will appear that use the definition of noble for each name.

There is also a list of top ten U.S. names by year, beginning with 1980 and ending with 2003. Should I decide to write a period novel, I can check the list of top ten names for 1908 to see that John and Mary were the top names for males and females, respectively.

Thankfully, MS Word has a piece that I can find and replace words - cause I'm gonna need it when I finally fine the right name for Ginger.

(The photo was taken in front of my house looking east.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Premium House Tour at Biltmore Estate - Should I?

I've just discovered a new specialty tour at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I'm headed there next week. I've taken the rooftop and the behind-the-scenes tours many times - and learned something new each time - but this sounds like a great experience.

For $150 I get a personal tour guide for 2 hours. The areas seen in the previous tours I've been on are included, as well as the areas open to the public. Here is a link. I need to call in the morning and find out the details. I called tonight but the reservation was already closed.

If anyone has taken the tour, let me know how it went.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A trip as a reward

I just booked myself a weekend stay in Asheville, NC as a reward for writing at the end of the month. I've been here several times and joke with my friends that this is my second home. My reason for going is to see the new rooms that have opened up at the Biltmore Estate. I let my year round pass expire this past April so I'll have to renew it. How can I pass up unlimited daytime visits for a year?

I'm getting ready to settle down and write some tonight. I'm having a hard time meeting the word quota for the day, but I hope the Biltmore "carrot" will do the trip and get me writing. I'll go whether or not I meet the quota, but I'll be happier if I've reached it before I leave.

August also starts "blackout" in my office - no annual/vacation leave and sick time can be taken only if you have a doctor's excuse. So I need a treat before the madness starts.

I'll leave Friday after work and return late Sunday evening. The drive isn't too bad. I've got Sirius satellite radio to keep me busy and I may just throw in the Twilight audio book as well. All I need now is to plan what to wear and wait out the time.

I think I hear Ginger and Robert (hey - he finally has a name!) calling to me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The start of my NaNoWriMo this July

Ginger is my heroine's name. She's got red hair, wears glasses to read, loves to knit even though she isn't very good and is a library school dropout. Don't let the dropout word fool you. She's quite canny in her thinking.

She works as the secretary for the local PD and does research for a famous mystery writer who lives nearby. A new chief of police comes on board, a man hoping for a nice, quiet place for retirement (he's only 48) when a series of murders begins. He still needs a name, but what I plan to write tonight doesn't concern him......yet.

The new series of murders will be based on an older crime, a killer who has so far gotten away with his/her crime. But I believe the time has come for some revenge.

My goal is to write the 1613 words per day (31 days in July, remember) and get back on track to writing every day like I was at the beginning of the year.

The picture above shows my current project, the Ishbel scarf/shawl. I bought it on Ravelry. The yarn came all the way from Scotland courtesy of the people at Old Maiden Aunt. The color is Hebridean from their Homecoming collection. 50% sure alpaca and 50% merino. Wonderful stuff.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo in July???

I've decided to do my own version of NaNoWriMo next month. Why? Well, there area several reasons, which I'll list here in a few days.

Needless to say, I need to write. In 2007 my friend Lisa and I did our own in May and I was finally able to write my first novel. Said novel is now collecting dust, as is the one from last year's NaNoWriMo, but that's ok. I've written two novels!!!! So I'm going to try it again before work gets too hectic.

More details to follow later this week. I've taken the next two days off (sorry G that you have to do some of my work) to paint but I'm going to be making some serious notes on what to write come July 1st.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I’m trying desperately to find something to work on besides my current knitting project. I kept coming back to my ‘body on the beach’ idea all weekend and made some great progress this weekend, finding a name for my mystery writer (Travis) and discovering how his mother (Miranda) came to be murdered when he was fifteen years old. I’ve even got three suspects now, not including Miranda’s husband. The twist is, bodies are showing up, dressed just like Miranda was in 1968; same exact outfit, down to the brand of clothing, shoes and jewelry. How creepy is that? Well, that was as far as I got. Time to shelve that notebook back on the shelf and work on something else. I’ve learned when nothing else is there to write about, its time to work on something different.

Earlier this afternoon I decided to work on Maggie and Gabe’s story. Maggie is a seamstress who has moved back home due to some unfortunate events in her career as a wedding gown designer. I’ve had this idea for well over ten years. My recent interest in sewing has had me digging out my notes and manuscript from before to see what I could do to it. Several hours later I’ve decided to combine the body on the beach story and Maggie and Gabe into one story. Maggie’s knowledge of fashion and designing will help in uncovering who killed Miranda over forty years ago. So there’s another one shelved back in the bookcase.

[I keep my ideas in one big notebook. Once I start working on an individual idea, I take it out and put it in its own notebook – a place where I know I can find it again – as my friend Lisa is always telling me – “Organization will set you free” – this is one area in my life where I do try to keep organized.]

So here I set, needing to write, and nothing to work on. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a productive day, for non-writing things. My clothes are washed and ready for the next week. I sewed a new pillowcase, stirred up some chocolate chip cookie dough (I keep it in the fridge for up to a week – I bake them as I eat them because there is nothing better than eating a warm, right out of the oven cookie) and attempted to make a skirt without using a pattern. I’ve learned a few things from the skirt, so I’ll be taking it apart and trying again, but I’m happy I had the idea to make one without using a pattern. Sometimes you have to learn to do things the hard way in order to be a better sewer later. Anyway, I got a lot done today but I still need to write.

So I am again on the lookout for something to write. I’ve set my clock a little earlier in the morning. I’m going to try and write before I go to work. Maybe I can get back into my grove I had at the beginning of the year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm floundering. Work has been kinda chaotic since March and where I missed a few days while in Philly my writing exercises have deteriorated. I want to write so bad, but apparently I'm back to my old tricks of just going on to bed because I'm tired. And I am tired. No doubt about that. And a tired writer is not a very good writer.

Work is exhausting. When I get home, all the inspiration I've had during the day just disappears. I make notes of what I was thinking, but that's about it. Script Frenzy was a bust this year. I ended up with 20 pages, which is better than nothing. I guess.

I'm fighting a weekly battle with another office at my institution, trying to make sure that the credentials I receive are authentic. I feel like I'm adding to the weight on my boss T's shoulders, but I need her support and she's been great so far in giving it. 

Today's incident has her now calling a meeting with the person in charge of the office I'm having trouble with and the associate VP of academic affairs. I apologized to T today for causing so much trouble but she wasn't worried. She did say however to not go back on what I've been doing - once I make an exception, then all this will have been for nothing.  

I'm headed to Hagerstown, MD next weekend for a small trip. I'm hoping to regroup, find my focus again, and get back to writing. I need the writing to calm the chaos in my life right now. I may even need to murder a few people, fictionally speaking, of course. 

(Yes, that's my dog Scooby telling me "No picture, please.")

Monday, April 27, 2009

Final days of ScriptFrenzy

nanowrimo notes , originally uploaded by mysterywriter.

I'm up to 19 pages. Can I do it? I want the bragging rights to say I finished a script. I'll give it my best shot. I really want to wear that t-shirt I bought in public. LOL

I've been using a previously written story and converting it into the script format. I've found that my story has now made several changes and I've veered away from what I had written. I'm going with the flow so all I can do is hope the final outcome is something I can put to good use when I go back to working on the novel.

I will admit that writing a script is much harder than I thought. I'm making a terrible mess of mine, but that's OK. This is a learning experience for me, and if all I ever get out of it is better dialogue for my fiction writing, I'll take it. I write what the voices in my head (characters) tell me to.

Sorry for using an old photo. I needed one with paper on it so reused a previous NaNoWriMo picture.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

the start of homemade jelly - and murder

The most mundane of chores can lead to great story ideas.

I was making homemade raspberry (black) jelly today with help from my mom - that's her hand in the photograph. You can see the steam coming off the hot juice. I was thinking that this stuff would probably take someone's skin off. I was thinking back to Christmas eve last year when the baked beans I was stirring popped onto my wrist. Hurt like hell, but nothing compared to getting splashed with this stuff.

Jelly making would make an interesting way to kill someone. Maybe the body could be so disfigured there wouldn't be a way to ID it. Hmmmm.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Script Frenzy update

I told C over at Planet All-Star today that I had finally written one page of my script. Of course, he comes back with "Only 99 more to go." 

Finding an idea has been tough. And writing a script is much harder than I thought. I'm used to describing the surroundings, what the characters are thinking, etc. No so in a script. I need dialogue and lots of it. Dialogue I can do - sometimes when I'm working on my writing exercises the dialogue is all I'm writing down. One reason I thought I could write the script. Oh well. I still have a few more days left in the month to catch up. I hope. LOL

My issues with writing my word quota has me thinking about murder a lot. I can't seem to find one idea to write on. My regular job is wearing me out and by the time I get home, I'm too tired to think clearly to write anything worth keeping. I sound like I'm whining and I am. C's wife G had to listen to me vent today, as did my sister L while we had lunch. The clothes I have on today will never be worn in the same combination again. Today was just filled bad karma. LOL

Tonight I'm going to work on my teenage time traveler story and see if I can get together a list of scenes to write about for my word quota then turn right around and redo the scene for the script. Maybe add another page or two to the script. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I needed 9,300 words for the month of March and I achieved that goal even though I missed three days of writing. I still feel sad that I missed those days, but my other days of surpassing the daily quota paid off and I didn't have to write any extra tonight to make up for those days.

My total word count to date is 23,204 words. That's almost half of what is needed for NaNoWriMo! 

Next month I should add at least another 12,000 words. April will be 400 words per day. I'm also participating in the ScriptFrenzy contest, which should help me with the word quota as well.

Script Frenzy arrives in April!!

I was chatting online with a friend of mine about 12:30 Sunday morning (3/19) when she told me that ScriptFrenzy, the script writing contest created by the people at NaNoWriMo was in April!!! I thought it was in July and that I had plenty of time to work on my story - plot, characters, etc. I was going to use my word count for that month (700 words/day) to write at least one 100 page script. But it's next month!!!!! What am I going to do??????

I'm going crazy trying to learn how to structure a script. I've read various books, websites, magazine articles and I have decided that I do not have the time to successfully plot out a screen play. Will that stop me from participating in ScriptFrenzy? NO WAY!

My plan is to just start writing different scenes. As long as I have 100 script pages by the end of the month, I'll be happy. Nothing in the rules says anything about the quality of the script. I know there if a format, but I'm such a loser I was totally unprepared for this year's contest.

I've also just returned from a conference in Philadelphia. My university uses Banner so the company that makes this database, SunGard, hosted their annual summit. First time for me to attend and I had a blast. I went with three co-workers, flying out on Saturday (3/21) and returning on Thursday (3/26) and since I had already been gone four days that week, I took Friday as a vacation day. Whew. So I had no chance to work on my script idea and structure. 

I also didn't write for three days while I was gone. I started out great, handwriting my daily quota, since I didn't take my computer (my iPod Touch was used a lot though to surf the web) and one night I actually forgot to write. I was disappointed with myself. I ended up skipping the next night, my last night in Philly, and skipping Thursday night as well after I returned home. I finally told myself I needed a break. I wasn't writing to win a prize. I'm attempting to make writing a habit and I think I have done a good job of that. So I may take a few more breaks in the coming months.

So my plans are to participate in ScriptFrenzy, writing 100 pages of a terrible script, but that's OK. I'm happy to just be writing, and to feel the creativeness finally bubbling up and escaping. I've mentioned to a few friends that my stories were trapped by my laziness and if I ever popped that cork, I would have an unending flow of words pouring out and onto the paper.

I'm sure you're wondering about the photo I included. That is a picture of my sewing machine. I finally drug it out of it's case and bought the piece I needed to fix it (two of them actually.) I think April's word count will be about a seamstress/costumer who gets involved with a small town cop solving a cold case. I've had this particular idea for over 10 years. Actually, I don't think I've worked on it since I left my job as a police dispatcher in 1998. 

I came across an article in a newspaper while on vacation about a woman who made wedding gowns. That got me started on a story about Maggie, a seamstress who previously worked in the costume department at a movie production company and who now had her own business creating custom clothing. 

My creativity in writing has spilled over into other areas of my life, causing me to get back into sewing (currently making a pillowcase for the first time) and to start knitting. Those crafts will in turn inspire more writing, creating a beautiful circle of creativeness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

100 Things

I finally made it to 100 posts! Almost like trying to write to a certain word count each night. I started this list in November 2008 and kept adding items as I would think of them. Some times I despaired of actually finding 100 things to say about myself. But I have prevailed.

1. I have red hair.

2. And green eyes.

3. I'm 5'4" tall. Well, 5'3 3/4". Same thing. LOL

4. I'm nearsighted and wear glasses.

5. I'm right handed.

6. But I fervently wish I was left handed.

7. I work in higher education.

8. I have a master's degree.

9. I drive a black VW Jetta.

10. With a manual transmission. Special order.

11. I learned to drive on a VW Beetle. Light blue. Manual transmission.

12. That my dad drove to school. 

13. My dad is 6'4". I am 5'4. You would think I would be a little taller. Thanks, Mom.

14. I took my driving test in a car with a manual transmission.

15. I failed the test. Stalled on a hill. In the pouring rain.

16. State trooper told me I had guts to take the test in a car with a standard transmission.

17. Passed the next time. IN THE SAME CAR.

18. If I could do the math, I would be an architect.

19. Or a forensic scientist.

20. Or a musician.

21. My dad taught algebra, pre-calculas, geometry, chemistry, physics and computer programming in high school. I had all but physics. I know just enough to be dangerous.

22. I'm a beginning knitter. 

23. I'm an experienced cross stitcher. 19 years experience.

24. I have two sisters and one brother. 

25. Odd numbers are my favorite.

26. I love frogs.

27. I love practical jokes.

28. Blue is my favorite color.

29. I played the flute and piccolo in the school band.

30. I have been to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC at least once each month.

31. I have never been out of the country.

32. But I do have a passport. Everyone should. You never know when Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome (with blue eyes) will show up and ask you to leave with him.

33. My avatar is a somewhat accurate description of what I had on the day I created it. My hair looked worse that day, though.

34. I'm older than the cartoon character Scooby Doo.

35. I'm in love with Edward Cullen, AKA Robert Pattinson.

36. Hawaii 5-0 and I debuted in the same year.

37. Most of my pets growing up were "rescues" - not from the pound or rescue groups - they were dropped at my house because I live in the country. There's a serial killer for you - murdering people who drop pets because they don't want them any more.

38. I saw the Twilight movie 4 times in theaters. 

39. I love cemeteries. Don't ask me why.

40. Age 40 was pretty sucky for me. I hope 41 is better.

41. I wish time travel were possible.

42. I have never broken a bone in my body.

43. I like to read mysteries.

44. I've met Alton Brown, host of Good Eats (Food Network).

45. I've also met William Shatner. Live long and prosper, Captain Kirk.

46. I've discovered that knitting is a much more expensive hobby than cross stitching ever was.

47. I love horses.

48. I'm fascinated by snakes, but also scared of them.

49. I can play the piano. 

50. I want to make a quilt.

51. Smallville is my favorite TV show.

52. I love ghost stories.

53. If I can teach myself to write in a higher level programming language, I may embark on a 2nd master's degree in Information Systems. Maybe.

54. I've pre-ordered three different versions of the Twilight movie on DVD. And pre-ordered it from iTunes as well.

55. I own a Macbook and an iMac.

56. I plan to grow pumpkins this summer.

57. I spent 6 years working as a police dispatcher.

58. I joined eBay in 1998 to purchase a VCR that played and recorded the in the formats PAL and SECAM as well as NTSC

59. Said VCR cost me $400.00. And is still working today.

60. I have a real copy of the Song of the South movie. PAL format (VHS).

61. I want to build my own house.

62. I now have a huge poster of Edward Cullen on the back of the door in my TV room.

63. I learned to cook so I could eat certain foods more than once or twice a year. Example: homemade crescent rolls. My mom would only make them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can now make them anytime, but I will admit they taste the best during the holidays with all that turkey and mashed potatoes.

64. My first dog was a German Shepherd named Sam. He died when I was 12.

65. My current dog's name is Scooby-Doo.

66. I've had my new car (black VW Jetta) for 15 months and already have over 27,000 miles on it.

67. My favorite board game is Monopoly.

68. My next favorite board game is Trivial Pursuit.

69. I also like Scrabble, Clue and Yahtzee.

70. My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. Also has to be colored green too.

71. I've owned three VW Jetta's and a Jeep Wrangler. 

72. I've been certified as a CPR instructor by the American Red Cross.

73. I've been certified as a CPR instructor by the American Heart Association.

74. I want to drive on Germany's Autobahn. Really.

75. My license place is personalized now. It's the name of my favorite TV show.

76. I won 2nd place at my junior high school in a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) writing contest.

77. My boss B gave me the highest compliment the other day. She called me irreplaceable. I almost cried.

78. I want to work on a master's degree in Forensic Science.

79. I would like to visit Germany for a month.

80. I have over 6 thousands e-mails in my inbox alone, not counting the hundreds in various folders in Outlook.

81. I currently have six pairs of glasses with the same prescription. Yes, six. Three with black frames, one with silver, one with gold and an old, old pair of blue frames.

82. I've been making homemade napkins like crazy. I like the idea of doing my bit for the environment.

83. If I keep up my monthly writing exercises, I will have written over 250,000 words by the end of the year.

84. I would like to teach myself a foreign language or two.

85. I've also discovered that sewing is a much more expensive hobby than cross stitching ever was as well.

86. I plan to participate in ScriptFrenzy and NaNoWriMo this year. 

87. Current songs on my iPod include: Runaway and Dream on Dreamer by Cascada, Convoy by C.W. McCall, Will you still love me by Chicago.

88. I once tracked down a television movie I had watched as a child on Saturday morning on the CBS Children's Film Festival. I could remember only that it appeared to be based on a fairy tale and had an owl with three silver acorns that were actually wishes. Tri orĂ­sky pro Popelku is the name of the movie. Better known as Three Wishes for Cinderella. The language was Czech with English subtitles. I finally found a VHS copy of it. For more info on the CBS Children's Film Festival click here.

89. I've learned that patience is a virtue. I've waited for HDNET to air the NCIS episodes from JAG. They're FINALLY airing on March 18th and I've set the Tivo to record them. I hope the power or cable doesn't go off.

90. I don't know whether to believe in ghosts, but I would love to meet one.

91. I actually enjoy playing solitaire. On the computer or with real cards, especially if they're my Scooby Doo deck.

92. I collect USGS (United States Geological Survey) topographical maps (7.5 min quadrangles) of places I've been. Or of places I would like to visit. The last one I bought was for Forks, WA of Twilight fame.

93. I like windows. My house will have lots of them. 

94. I love strawberries, will eat a banana if I have to and I will suck the juice out of an orange but I won't eat the pulp. Ick.

95. I'm currently reading The Reader. I hope to get Revolutionary Road next.

96. I made myself my first pair of pajama pants over the weekend. I love them and look forward to making a few more. 

97. My goal for Christmas 2009 is to make handmade gifts for my family and friends.

98. I love BBQ potato chips, popcorn with extra butter and crunchy Cheetos. But not all at the same time. ICK.

99. I plan to get a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license next summer if not before.

100. I have red hair. Here's the proof. This is a school photograph of me from, I think, the first grade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the return of the time traveler

This month my goal is to write 300 words a day. Ok. I've been doing that but I can't seem to stick with one story. I started out good, writing a murder mystery one, but I soon strayed from it and begin writing other stuff. Which isn't to say that's a bad thing, but I ended up writing something different each night. So here I am, March 12th, and while I have the word count quota, I don't have anything else worth keeping.

Now I know you'll say that at least I was writing, practicing my craft, but I would at least like to have something I can come back to at a later date and edit into something that might one day be published.

So I've brought back Mac, my time traveling teenager and her story. I wrote about 20 single spaced pages about her and her friends Freddy and Tessa last month. I'm hoping they can get me out of the funk I've been in this month. 

I want to use Mac's story for the short story contest sponsored by The Writer I mentioned in an earlier post. I think this will be what I need to actually write something, edit it, then send it off for a review. I hope I can do it.